Will all CARICOM nationals be able to move freely by the end of next month?


By Neil Marks

The people of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) should be able to move and work freely in any of the member state, but the list of complaints about that is a very long one. It just hasn’t happened.

Leaders of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have flown into Georgetown for their 46th Regular Meeting – the last time they will meet together before the March 31, 2024 deadline they set to ensure that free movement really works.

What will they say Wednesday when their meeting ends? It’s anyone’s guess.

President Dr Irfaan Ali address the opening of the 46th Regular Meeting of CARICOM at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown (Photo: News Room/ February 25, 2024)

But talking about lists, Guyana’s President, Dr Irfaan Ali, was sure there is a tall list of decisions that CARICOM member states must implement, but before blurting it out at the opening of the meeting Sunday night, he decided to confer with the CARICOM Secretary General who was seated in the front row and the Cultural Centre and at good enough ear shot. He then made the announcement: There are 113 pages of decisions on the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) that await implementation.

And then he made a passionate plea, or rather that sounded like a reprimand.

“We must correct this! We cannot, we cannot move forward without correcting this. We have a responsibility to correct this!”

President Dr. Irfaan Ali interacts with other Heads of Government of CARICOM and other officials at a reception after the opening ceremony (Photo: February 25, 2024/ News Room)

CSME is basically the arrangement by which CARICOM nationals can move and work freely in the region.

But again, it hasn’t happened and CARICOM has been mocked, criticised and chastised for taking so long to ensure it happens.

Why, try clicking the link for CSME on the CARICOM website and you will see: “This site cannot be reached”! Under the Documents and Publications tab on the very website, the link for Annual Reports is blank.

CARICOM has five main focus areas: economic integration, foreign policy coordination, human and social development and security.

In the minds of the people of the region, the main issue has been the ability to move and work freely, and to do so with their families benefitting from education, healthcare and other social benefits, without hassle.

Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and President of Guyana, Dr. Irfaan Ali is joined by other CARICOM Heads of Government, government officials and the CARICOM Secretary General Dr. Carla Barnett at the National Cultural Centre in Georgetown. (Photo: News Room/ February 25, 2024)

The CARICOM heads are expected to discuss the CSME over the next three days.

At the last Conference of Heads of Government – the highest decision-making body of CARICOM– the grouping noted that “there are certain basic guarantees that should be afforded to all CARICOM nationals exercising their right to freely move and remain indefinitely in another Member State of the Community.”

Article 46 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, the legal instrument of CARICOM, provides for the right of nationals to seek work and/or engage in gainful employment in any of the participating CSME Member States, without the need to obtain a work permit in the Member State in which he/she wishes to work.

1 Comment
  1. Stephen Monohar Kangal says

    President Dr Ali you must not allow the Caricom under your distinguished Chairmanship at this HOGM to railroad and fast track by 31st March 2024 the question of freedom of movement because that is a dagger aimed at the heart of the PPP and you must allow trained people to stay within their jurisdiction, build their respective countries and not perpetuate the least developed concept. Additionally that is a proposal that will also adversely dislocate the contemporary demographics much to the political disadvantages/changes in T&T and Suriname . All Legislatures must be requested to debate this issue (even referenda conducted) before any decision is taken at the Heads Level that cannot replace the respective Parliaments. I agree that you must give precedence to the implementation of over 200 agreements relating to the CSME and not allow the Free Movement Trojan Horse now located in Georgetown to disembowel rogue elements/Yardies/Gangs that will increase the crime rate and hold Guyanese commercial interests to paying protection money. A word to the wise Leader is sufficient to alert him to the commission of political suicide and his last hurrah in the seat of power in Georgetown should he give in to this sinister plot to inundate Georgetown with Caribbean Gangs from Haiti, Jamaica and elsewhere to terrorise the Guyanese commercial landscape and choke and rab.

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